Ahmedabad blasts suspect held in Aurangabad

Maharashtra ATS officers arrested Mohammad Abrar Babu Khan a suspect in the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts and his accomplice Mohammad Shakir.

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Ahmedabad blasts suspect held in Aurangabad

In a major success for the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, its officers arrested Mohammad Abrar Babu Khan alias Abrar Shaikh, a suspect in the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts, and his accomplice Mohammad Shakir, 32, following a fierce gun battle at the Himayat Baug area in Aurangabad on Monday.

Their aide Khaleel Qureshi, 20, was killed in the cross-fire.

The group reportedly has links with the banned terror outfit, Indian Mujahideen (IM).

The group, all former Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) members, had also plotted to eliminate the judges of the Allahabad high court who had pronounced the verdict in the Babri Masjid case, said sources.

For the last three months, the police had been working on information that the group, led by second-in-command Abrar, has been trying to set up their base in Maharashtra and were active in Aurangabad, Jalna and Buldhana, revealed ATS chief Rakesh Maria.

“They were planning to commit robberies in the state and we have been trying to track them,” he said.

In July-June 2011, the Madhya Pradesh police had arrested Abu Faisal, who has links with the IM, from the Juhu Gully area in Mumbai.

“The group had carried out a spate of robberies in Madhya Pradesh and used the money for terror funding. After Faisal was arrested, Abrar took charge,” said Maria.

“During interrogation, Faisal had told the police that his group was planning to kill two high court judges who had given judgment in the Babri Masjid case,” said a police officer, requesting anonymity.

On the formation of the group, an officer said that after security agencies turned the heat on Faisal, he had gone into hiding at at his in-laws' place in Madhya Pradesh.

“There he met senior SIMI leader Safdar Nagori, who is currently in jail. Later Faisal went to Kerala for terrorist training. Faisal and Abrar were also in touch with top SIMI functionary Abdus Subhan Qureshi alias Tauqeer. Abrar's name also figures in the 2008 Ahmedabad blast case charge sheet. Another key member of the group Aqeel Khilji, 42, is still at large,” said the officer.

“The group had bought a house in Jamshedpur in Jharkhand where fake passports could be prepared," said another police officer.

On Monday, the Aurangabad ATS had got a tip-off  that Abrar Shakir and Qureshi would arrive at Himayat Baug.

“When the police approached them, they opened fire. The police fired nine rounds, while the three men fired five rounds. Constable Shaikh Arif Shaikh Ismail got shot on his left shoulder and Qureshi was killed in the encounter. Shakir, who was shot on both his thighs, is in hospital,” said Maria.

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